The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs let slip a 14-point advantage in the second half to record their second consecutive draw, finishing level at 26-all with the Newtown Jets at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs ran out to a 26-12 lead with 20 minutes remaining with two unanswered tries, but Newtown continued to fight hard with a try in the final five minutes earning themselves a share of the points.
Lachlan Lewis put in starring performance for the Bulldogs with two tries to his name, while Manaia Cherington provided significant impact off the bench for Newtown with a hand in two tries and scoring one of his own in a strong performance.
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to draw first blood after Newtown were unable to defuse a scorching bomb off the opening set, and five-eighth Lachlan Lewis took full advantage of their chance as he barged his way over the line just three tackles later.
Bulldogs were full of confidence from their strong start and looked to have bagged their second try in the opening 10 minutes, only for the referee to rule that the final pass was forward.
The battle for field position was hotly contested throughout the opening 20 minutes, with both sides earning valuable metres through the middle but were unable to capitalise on their chances.
Newtown eventually found a breakthrough when a brilliant short ball from halfback Penani Manumalealii sent Jayden McDonagh through a gaping hole, with the lock-forward scoring their first try and locking the scores up at 6-6.
Smart thinking from Jordan Drew saw the speedster cut through the Bulldogs defence off a quick-tap but the centre was brought down 20 metres out from the try-line by some scrambling Bulldogs defence.
Unable to take advantage of their momentum, an eventual penalty to the Bulldogs saw them march their way up the other end of the field, with a promising back line movement threatening Newtown’s defence once again but resulted in another turnover.
Just moments later, the Bulldogs found themselves on the attack and were hunting for their second try of the game, and Rod Griffin showed brilliant strength to palm off a host of defenders to score to the right of the uprights.
Chase Stanley converted the try to take a 12-6 lead with just two minutes to go in the first half.
Some a razzle-dazzle football off the kick-off saw the Bulldogs on the front-foot once again as they broke through the Newtown defence, and a quick shift from left to right saw Reismis Smith athletically cross in the left-hand corner for a vital third try.
Stanley continued his perfect kicking record with a pin-point sideline conversion to take a handy 18-6 advantage at half-time.
The Bulldogs started the second half much like the first 40 minutes and found themselves on the attack straight from the kick-off, and Tyrone Phillips wasted little time as he crossed for their fourth of the day.
An error off the kick-off from the Bulldogs gifted Newtown the perfect opportunity to hit back with a four-pointer of their own, and they made no mistake with hooker Manaia Cherrington fooling the defence with a huge dummy - planting the ball down right under the posts with Matt Evans converting the try and reduce the deficit to just 10 points.
Newtown were unable to continue their charge for a comeback victory, with the Bulldogs finding themselves on the scoreboard again with Lachlan Lewis crossing for his second try of the game.
Although threatening to take a further stranglehold in the contest, Newtown continued to show their resilience with Leigh Higgins supporting a huge run up the middle, before streaking away from a desperate Bulldogs defence to cross for a much-needed four-pointer.
Evans was unable to convert from the sideline, with the score set at 26-16 with just 20 minutes remaining in the game.
Newtown found a spark and were able to build significant pressure thanks to the astute short kicking game of Cherrington, and a classy backline movement saw Kenny Niko score their second unanswered try with just 10 minutes to go.
Brimming with confidence, Newtown were constantly threatening to set the scores level and eventually found Saulala Houma, who barged his way over a heap of defenders to score right next to the goal-posts.
Evans converted from in-front with the scores level at 26 all with just seven minutes remaining.
A barnstorming run from up the middle from the kick-off break through the tired defence of the Bulldogs with Evans was looming up on the inside but was unable to take advantage.
Evans had the chance to record a massive comeback victory with a shot at goal from 40metres out right on full-time, but the ball went to the right of the posts to finish a remarkable game of footy, with the both sides sharing the points in a 26-all draw.
Newtown Jets 26 (J McDonogh, M Cherrington, L Higgins, K Niko, S Houma tries; M Evans 3 goals) drew with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 26 (L Lewis 2, R Griffin, R Smith, T Phillips tries; C Stanley 3 goals)